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Immediate Pay Increase Urged for U.S. Teachers

This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

Almost half of new American teachers leave the profession within five years. Some get tired of large class sizes, limited planning time and support, and wishing to feel more valued by society. At the same time, experts say too many teachers lack the required knowledge of what they teach, especially math and science.

Criticisms of teaching are usually less about the working conditions than about the pay. A new report calls for an immediate pay increase of fifteen to twenty percent. It says this would lift teachers from the bottom in starting pay among professions.

The report, "Teachers and the Uncertain American Future," is from the Center for Innovative Thought. The College Board formed this group last year with "some of the best minds in education," in its words.

The College Board is a non-profit organization that owns the SAT college entry test. It also administers the Advanced Placement program.

The report urges new programs to solve a crisis in the number of qualified math and science teachers. It says less than half of students who finish high school are ready for college-level math or science.

It says another problem is a shortage of minority teachers, to better represent society. It says two times as many black and three times as many Hispanic, Asian and Native American teachers are needed.

The report says the nation needs a new agreement, a "compact," with its teachers to defend its position in the world. All this would be financed with public and private money through a proposed "Teachers' Trust."

The suggested fifteen to twenty percent pay raise would rise to fifty percent. Teachers would work eleven months of the year instead of ten. Excellent teachers and those who agree to teach in troubled schools and subjects with shortages could get extra pay.

The plan also calls for better working conditions, and more pathways into teaching for those without traditional training.

The National Education Association is America's largest teachers union. Its president says the proposals from the Center for Innovative Thought are nothing new.

Reg Weaver says schools will not improve until teachers have the support, skills and training necessary to do their jobs. He says the surest way to end the teacher shortage is for all teachers to receive pay that recognizes the job they have to do.

And that's the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Nancy Steinbach. Transcripts and archives are at I'm Faith Lapidus.